Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Light, very breathable, comfortable for day hiking
Cons: Not durable, ineffective waterproofing
Best Uses: Fastpacking, dayhikes, backpacking
The Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX is a fine midweight hiking boot, designed to maximize breathability and move fast over varied trail terrain. One of the lighter midweights we tested, the Breeze is very comfortable on the foot (especially narrow and low volume feet!) and is a great choice for backpacking with light loads. As the name suggests, this boot is built to be light and airy. During our springtime testing, our testers enjoyed the Gore-Tex model's protection. For warm and mostly dry season adventures, the non-waterproof version of this boot is a favorite of many hikers and distance backpackers. Folks looking for a similar product more suited for wide feet should check out the Keen Targhee II Mid. The Targhee provides less ankle stability, but other wise is a higher performing boot.
While we appreciate the Breeze's nimbleness and breathability, durability is a concern and the waterproofing isn't as effective compared to other midweight boots. A little heavier midweight boots, most notably the Salomon Quest 4D II GTX and Vasque St Elias GTX, earned much higher overall scores. These two award winners both offer more ankle stability, better wet weather performance, and are more durable.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Comfort, breathability, and a feather light weight on the foot are the Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX's main benefits. This model is heavier than the lightweights we tested, but provides more ankle stability.
The Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX is a very comfortable boot that breathes better than all others that we tested, save the non-waterproof Merrell Moab Ventilator. The combination leather and mesh upper is supple and hugs your foot and ankle right from the start, and the stock dual-density insole is one of the best. Out of the box comfort is a major plus for this model. After a few days on the trails, the ankle collar and tongue became even more comfy as they molded to our tester's foot. After the laces pass through four webbing eyes on the forefoot, a middle and two upper hook eyelets complete the lacing system. It is a fairly simple system, and quick to tighten, but the middle hook doesn't provide the positive lock on the laces that we like.
Like it's more supportive and durable cousin, the Vasque St Elias, the Breeze has a narrower than average toe box. If you have a wide foot, especially at the toes, the wide version of the Breeze will likely be much more comfortable.
Ankle stability is not one of the strong points for the Breeze 2.0 relative to the other boots we tested. The light weight and flexible upper that is so comfortable provides less lateral stability for the ankle than the other midweights we tested, but more than the lightweights, most of which have a shorter ankle collar. The Breeze occupies a sort of middle ground between minimalist lightweights and more stable and supportive midweights.
Not too good and not too bad would be the best way to describe the Breeze's traction. Travelling over smooth rock slabs, especially when wet, was the notable spot where they let us down. There are a lot of different shapes to the lugs under foot, and the ball of the foot area doesn't provide as much surface area in contact with the rock as other boots. We did find these better than average performers in both mud and loose gravel.
Weighing in at 2.90 lbs for our size 12 test pair, the Breeze 2.0 is the lightest boot we tested with a full height ankle collar. The ample mesh panels incorporated in the upper help keep the weight low.
Water resistance is a challenge for the Breeze. The version we tested is built with a Gore-Tex membrane, and kept our sock dry during our 'stand in the river and flex' test. But the upper with it's mesh panels soaks up more water than most other products. One really wet hikes, we found water penetrated into the boot (but not thru the Gore-Tex liner) and it was slow to dry. The Gore-Tex liner is asked to do more in this boot than in products with a more water resistant upper. We feel the design of this boot is more suited to the non-waterproof version.
There are a lot of seams and a lot of mesh on the upper of this boot. Decreased durability is one of the main tradeoffs when shaving ounces off a boot, and the Breeze 2.0 is one of the least durable products we tested. The relatively large pores in the mesh panels not only allow small debris and sand to work their way into the boot's upper, but are prone to snagging on small sticks if you hike off trail. And unlike the Vasque St Elias, the protective rubber toe cap is glue to the upper rather than sewn on. Our test model did not see problems here, but we've observed delaminating toe caps on the Breeze in the field.
The Breeze is best suited for long day hikes and backpacking with light loads. Our lead tester has narrow and sweaty feet, and this is a perfect product for him.
If durability is not so important in your search for a light boot, the Breeze 2.0 can be a good choice at $170
The Vasque Breeze 2.0 GTX is well suited to hikers and light backpackers that value the lightest footwear, but still want a full coverage ankle collar. The Breeze fits in a good niche between super comfy lightweights and more stable midweights.
The women's version of this shoe is the Breeze GTX - Women's. The 2.0 GTX version is also available, for both men and women: the Breeze 2.0 GTX and the Breeze 2.0 GTX - Women's, $170; Vasque refers to the 2.0 as being more breathable, lighter, and durable.
— Brandon Lampley
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Most recent review: May 22, 2015
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